Rank(s): Marine Private
Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 1789
James Brown was born in 1789 in Vasalborough, Maine.
Before August 5, 1812, James Brown was a laborer. Brown enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps on August 5, 1812 at the Charlestown Navy Yard. He was transferred to USS Chesapeake on May 17, 1813. On June 1, 1813, he was severely wounded in action while on USS Chesapeake off Boston Light. He was captured and taken as a prisoner of war by HMS Shannon in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was released and returned to the Charlestown Navy Yard on July 5, 1813.
Brown joined the Constitution’s crew as a private on September 6, 1812. After being returned to the Charlestown Navy Yard, he was transferred back to Constitution on October 12, 1813.
Marine privates served as the shipboard police force and were, in effect, seagoing soldiers. They used the same manual of arms as the army and trained in much the same way. Unlike the army, marines had to be familiar with naval work and warfare. Marines could not be ordered aloft to do the work of the seamen there, but they could expect to man the capstan or serve as gun crews on the gun deck. Marines stood watch as sentries at sensitive parts of the ship, to see that no unauthorized people passed into those spaces (such as the captain’s cabin or the spirit room). In battle, marines armed with muskets or rifles took up station along the gangway or in the tops to keep up a constant fire on the enemy’s decks. The marine private received $6.00-$8.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
Brown participated in a war cruise, capturing a small British man-of-war and three merchantmen. He participated in the battles with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant and received $22.19 in prize money.
Brown was transferred to prize ex-HMS Cyane on February 20, 1815 and later “sent onboard the Squadron from the prize ship Cyane at New York”. His place and date of death are unknown.